Oh, sure, we knew Super Mario Run wasn’t really free. Nintendo announced right away that it would be free to download and start, but that players would need to drop a premium fee in order to keep going.
We also knew that this thing wouldn’t be all that cheap ahead of its price reveal. When Nintendo announced Super Mario Run‘s eventual $9.99 price tag, I don’t think those who follow gaming news were all that surprised.
People who read gaming news on a daily basis represent a small chunk of gamers, though, and that especially applies to games in the mobile category. So, when Super Mario Run launched as a free download, iOS users were absolutely stunned when they beat level 1-3 and were met with a whopping $10 paywall.
Seriously. We tracked some of the frustration last week. Have a look.
Super Mario Run‘s free-to-start strategy was a bad one
Operating entirely in hindsight, I don’t think Nintendo made a good choice with their free-to-start play for Super Mario Run. They did the same thing on the 3DS with game’s like Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, but that was a lesser IP on a platform with a perhaps more knowledgeable audience.
On iOS? Super Mario Run was downloaded 2.85 million times during its first 24 hours of availability. There’s no way even half of those consumers knew they were going to hit a paywall. Consumers voiced frustration and 1-star reviews demonstrate that perfectly.
The ratings are Nintendo’s biggest problem right now. Super Mario Run will absolutely make Nintendo money, but one has to wonder what its 1-star ratings will do to both the game and Nintendo’s presence on mobile moving forward. The game is sitting on an average 2.5-star rating spread over nearly 54k reviews. That’s bad, and it might be one of the most poorly consumer-received Mario games ever.
All because of the surprise paywall.
Super Mario Run should have simply been $10
Look, I appreciate what Nintendo tried to do here. They’re offering a free demo entirely without ads with a price tag that will unlock everything completely. I like all of that a lot, and I have no problem with Nintendo’s payment approach for Super Mario Run.
The mobile gaming industry, though, is different. These consumers don’t really care if there are banner ads or 30-second commercials in their games every now and then. They want a quick fix before moving on, and tossing a surprise paywall in front of ignorant (not an insult, simply a statement of fact) consumers was a bonehead move.
Nintendo should have just slapped a $10 price tag on the game and called it a day. Those who wanted Mario on mobile had it, and they knew the price.
What I’ve played of Super Mario Run has been fun, so now Nintendo has to get past this early rush of 1-star reviews to earn the ratings level it deserves.